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October 5, 2009As stated on NYC Hoops last week, only 4 of 68 teams had a sure shot at facing iS8's self-anointed team to beat, The Unique All-Stars.
Whether the 4 teams were able to emerge victorious was a whole different story. After The Bunky Reid All-Stars and BC Eagles fell short in formidable efforts on Saturday, Team Underrated Juniors and East Orange Express would suffer the same fate on Sunday, albeit in much less competitive games.
Both games were out of reach for Unique's remaining pool play adversaries in a matter of minutes, as Team Underrated Juniors fell 68-51, and East Orange Express, 78-43 at Roy Wilkins Park on Sunday. The four straight victories -which saw Unique winning by an average of 21 points- have punched their ticket to the iS8 playoffs.
Unique Stifles Team Underrated Juniors
Unique showed no signs of Sunday morning lethargy, picking up where they left off in Saturday's action. TU's 2-3 zone dared Tobias Harris and Jon Ward-Adams to shoot it from deep, so they obliged. After a flurry of threes, Syracuse-bound Dion Waiters took a cue from Saturday's games and threw down poster worthy dunk on a TU defender, giving Unique an 11-1 lead early. With 6'9 Brice Kofane (6 blocks) rejecting everything that came inside, TU were forced into the jump shot lifestyle. Amityville HS' Darien Croft got a three to go, but TU were still down 17-6. Jody McCrae would take Unique's shot blocking prowess to a higher rung (with three rejections in the second quarter), and by the time the second quarter was halfway done, TU were down by almost 20 points, turning the ball over and struggling to find decent shot attempts. With Harris out for a good 6 minutes, McRae and back up guard Nolan Hart carried the brunt of Unique's offense. TU's lone bright spot in the second quarter was 6'0 senior PG Paris Parks (Longwood HS), who was able to get out on the break and finish around the hoop, but they were still down, 40-20, at halftime.
TU managed to get back within 14 points via hot shooting from Parks, (his Longwood teammate) forward Patrick Piasecki and Ward-Melville's Curtis Williams, but they failed to pull the game any closer. They began to ignore discretion and shoot threes aimlessly, while turning the ball over in other instances. Unique would rack up their fair share of turnovers as well, but their lead was largely unaffected. With the exception of three Unique treys in a row (from Hart, McRae and Tavon Sledge) to start the quarter and a nasty collision between Piasecki (who required stitches) and Ward-Adams, the final period was an afterthought.
Tobias Harris, Dion Waiters and Jody McRae led The Unique All-Stars with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Curtis Williams and Patrick Piasecki led Team Underrated Juniors with 8 points each.
Unique Reduces East Orange Express To Local Service
A slow start for Unique allowed EOE to come out aggressively, and they got on the board with a three to start the game. The New Jersey team played scrappy defense and forced Unique to shoot the jumper, which kept them at bay temporarily. However, once Unique began to run off buckets in the open court, the game was quickly over and EOE's early 3-0 lead was their lone advantage of the game. Waiters, Sledge and Harris powered Unique's first quarter roll, and they were up 17-6 after eight minutes. McRae used the second quarter to create his shot blocking highlight film, as his vertical leap and timing allowed him to reject EOE's shot attempts left and right. EOE's Javon Morgan returned the favor with a nasty rejection on McRae, but EOE didn't have much left to offer and the contest was beginning to veer into pick-up game territory. Waiters would continue to dominate offensively, while showing off the playmaking skills that will aid him as an Orangeman.
Folly would begin to set in for Unique in the third quarter, and an offensive lull to match didn't help. EOE would take the brief lapse to make a run, but would get no closer than thirteen points, 39-26. Harris, Waiters and McRae would pick up steam at the end of the quarter, and the juice was squeezed from East Orange. Kouane (5 blocks) only added insult to injury with his inside presence, and the fourth quarter became Showtime at Roy Wilkins Park Starring The Unique All-Stars. Walters, Harris, McRae and Waiters put on a dunk fest, while McRae and Hart let it pour from outside. When the smoke cleared, The Unique All-Stars clinched a spot in the playoffs and ended their pool play experience with a 35 point steamrolling of EOE.
Dion Waiters scored a game high 23 points, while Jody McRae added 20 points to go with his 8 blocks. Tobias Harris chipped in with 16 points.
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